NZ Fashion Week backstage: Zambesi

Hair and makeup teams created two entirely different but equally outstanding looks for the iconic label's NZFW shows.

This year’s New Zealand Fashion Week saw Kiwi fashion institution Zambesi lay on not one but two runway shows across two nights.

Backstage, both shows were directed by Kiekie Stanners on makeup for MAC Cosmetics, and Michael Beel on hair using L’Oreal Professionel.

We managed to snatch a few moments with both artists to get the lowdown on how the striking looks for each show were achieved.


Makeup inspiration: A brigade of Zambesi sci-fi beauties. Slightly bonkers librarians, that have taken their signature 60’s beauty to an otherworldly place.

Key products
Silverlite Strobe Cream
Face and Body Foundation
Starry Opal Cream Colour Base with Soft Frost Extra Dimension Highlight to illuminate all the high planes of the face
Pinky Tulle Cream Colour Blush pressed into the cheeks

Graphic eye created by marking the shape in with Brushback Liner, then defining with Blacktrack Pro Longwear Fluidline and a #209 liner brush
Custom made Zambesi shade of lilac created by mixing MAC Pro Chromacakes
Soft Frost Extra Dimension Highlight pressed over top

Among The Stars Crystal Glaze Gloss mixed with Polar Fleece Grand Illusion Glossy Liquid Lip Colour

The graphic eye created for Zambesi A/W20 by MAC’s Kiekie Stanners was filled in with a custom-made Zambesi shade of lilac. Photo by Karen Ishiguro



“Zambesi are an iconic brand celebrating 40 years of fashion, so we wanted to create an iconic hair look but make it a little alien,” says Beel. “Slightly quirky but still with an essence of classic beauty.

“So the concept for this look was ‘bookish bouffant aliens’.”

Key L’Oréal Professionnel products
Tecni.Art Volume Lift Mousse
Tecni.Art Pli Thermo Modelling Spray
Tecni.Art Savage Panache Texturizing Powder Spray
Infinium Pure Hairspray

Create the look:
1. Prep hair with Tecni.Art Volume Lift Mousse. You will need a lot to create fatness in the hair and for it to feel gritty.
2. Working in a brick setting pattern and using Tecni.Art Pli, lightly backcomb each section then set using a tong. Pin to secure then allow to cool.
4. Remove sections around the crown and place 2 large donuts (hair padding) at the crown on top of each other to create exaggerated height and pin some hair over it to cover padding.
5. Taking remaining sides and back hair twist into a tight French pleat keeping it very flat to the head. Spray with Infinium Pure Hairspray and Tecni.Art Savage Panache while working to encourage texture.
6. Work front hair over padding in similar manner.
7. Saturate hairline with Infinium Pure Hairspray and use a piece of elastic to create an indentation. Dry in with a hairdryer and diffuser.
8. Encourage flyaways around side hairline with Tecni.Art Savage Panache.


“Zambesi’s 40-year retrospective show had a mix of models and ‘Zamfam’ walking – 52 models all up!” says hair director Michael Beel. Photo by Karen Ishiguro



Friday night saw Zambesi fans treated to a second show, this one a retrospective runway in celebration of the New Zealand brand’s 40th anniversary.

Makeup inspiration: Inspired by the quintessential Zambesi muse and archive runway images of the past, each model wore a customised smoky eye in a colour palette reflective of the MAC Cosmetics for Zambesi Cream Colour Base Kokako Blue which was released in 2003.

Key products
Goldlite Strobe Cream
Studio Waterweight SPF30 Foundation
Pearl Cream Colour Base Highlight
Groundwork Pro Longwear Paint Pot to softly contour the cheekbones
Prep + Prime Translucent Loose Powder to remove shine

Waveline and Blacktrack Pro Longwear Fluidline with a #209 Eyeliner brush to create a customised graphic eye on each model, in a stormy navy tone
Naval Blue Pigment pressed over top
Lip Conditioner lightly washed over top to create a creamy, worn-in effect

Lip Scrubtious to nourish lips
Lip Erase softly pressed into lips to remove natural rosiness

The hair look for Zambesi’s Retrospective show was a lived-in oily root with dry beach texture placed at the ends. Photo by Karen Ishiguro



“Zambesi 40-year retrospective show had a mix of models and “Zamfam” walking – 52 models all up!” says Beel.

“We took reference from the archives of 40 years of beauty looks and worked out what was the quintessential Zambesi vibe.

“The look was a lived-in oily root with dry beach texture placed at the ends. Plus a few organic-looking fishtail and conventional plaits placed sporadically around the head to give it some structure while still looking effortless.”

Key L’Oréal Professionnel products
Tecni.Art Liss Control
Tecni.Art Pli Thermo Modelling Spray
Tecni.Art Savage Panache Texturizing Powder Spray

Create the look:
1. Prep the hair with lots of Pli Modelling Spray and beach waves. Dry in encouraging any natural movement but keep the roots flat.
2. Go back in and enhance texture with a curling tong to get a beach wave type of texture (if needed).
3. Apply Liss Control liberally at the roots throughout the whole head till about 10cms down the hair – this will make the roots look oily and lived in.
4. Work with the natural parting – nothing too forced.
5. Then taking random sections add in a multitude of plaits, fishtail braids etc, keeping it organic and lived in.
6. Finish with a good spray of Savage Panache.

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